DETROIT – Melanoma Monday is an annual event designed to raise awareness of the most deadly form of skin cancer, and while the coronavirus (COVID-19) is clearly top of mind in terms of current health risks, experts say it’s important not to ignore other issues.
Many people were outside over the weekend in Metro Detroit, enjoying the sunshine and warm weather. Some people have sunburns to show for it.
Even during the coronavirus pandemic, dermatologists are warning patients that detecting melanoma early is still critical.
“The longer you wait to treat melanoma, the worse the five-year survival (rate),” Dr. Steve Grekin said.
A few days’ delay usually won’t make a difference, but a couple of months can, Grekin said.
“As we’re not coming into week seven, eight, nine -- it does cause some people to be alarmed, especially if they have lesions of concern,” Grekin said.
While many skin issues can be addressed with tele-health or high-quality photos, some can’t.
“Lesions that are concerning, I really believe need an examination in person, and also want to have it examined by a (microscope),” Grekin said. “It lets us look through the skin surface and really see what’s going on.”
If you have a skin lesion that is changing in size, shape, color or texture or looks swollen or red, call your dermatologist.
As always, anyone who goes outside should remember sunscreen, experts said.
“Exposure to ultraviolet radiation is in fact doubling our risk of getting melanoma,” Grekin said. “On unprotected sunbathing, no matter how great it makes us feel, especially after we’ve been torrenting at home all this time, it’s of the utmost importance that we apply sunscreen every time we’re going to be out in the sun.”
Grekin’s office is seeing a limited number of patients for situations that can’t wait.
In addition to wearing personal protective equipment and new cleaning procedures, the office is having patients wait in their cars until their appointment. Patients then walk directly to an exam room. The process will be common across most doctors’ offices moving forward.
The Skin Cancer Foundation says just one blistering sunburn in childhood increases the risk of melanoma later in life, so make sure children know sunscreen is a must before heading outside to play.